Museum Learning Center

The Museum Learning Center (MLC), at the heart of the Sidney R. Knafel Wing, is a multi-purpose space designed to provide unprecedented access to the Addison’s collection and reinforce the mission to support teaching and learning through visual education. By advanced request, students, teachers, scholars, and the public are invited to work with museum staff in selecting works of art for temporary viewing, study, and discussion.

When not in use by classes, the MLC is also available as a space for reading and quiet study.

Visiting the Museum Learning Center

Analyzing, interpreting, and thinking critically about images deepens visual and historical literacy and analysis skills while enhancing understanding of our world. The MLC provides the space and opportunity for deepening and widening these connections through the intentional selection of and intimate engagement with artwork. During an MLC visit, students are able to experiment with reordering sequences of images to explore how juxtaposition impacts narrative and emerging themes. 

Educators of all grade levels are invited to arrange visits to discuss works from the Addison’s collection.

For suggested groupings by theme or time period, explore Collection Guides.

For lesson plans and projects to extend your MLC visit, explore the Guide to Curatorial Practice as Education.

Phillips Academy Programs and College Groups should contact Jamie Gibbons (jgibbons@andover.edu) and PreK-12 Programs, Community & School Partnerships, and Adult Groups should contact Christine Jee (cjee@andover.edu) or fill out the class visit form to schedule.

Curators, scholars, researchers, and members of the public are invited to view works from the Addison’s renowned collection of American art by appointment.

After selecting works for exploration in the MLC, please email the Collection Access Request Application to Curatorial Coordinator Juli McDonough (jmcdonough@andover.edu) at least three weeks in advance. She will review your request and check availability of your selected works.

As part of the 2010 building renovation project, the Addison installed a green roof – the first of its kind in Andover – on the 2,500-square-foot roof above the museum’s loading dock, which can be viewed from the Museum Learning Center. In this location, the green roof offers significant aesthetic as well as practical benefits. Covered with four varieties of hardy, low-maintenance sedum, the green roof preserves the integrity of the view of the Phillips Academy Great Lawn by easing the transition from building to landscape, and is far more attractive than other roofing materials. Additionally, the green roof controls rainwater runoff and reduces demand on storm drain systems. The green roof also reduces the “heat island” effect that occurs when roofs, typically covered with a black membrane, absorb solar heat. Finally, the green roof requires little maintenance, and provides some insulating effect on the space below.

Installed on top of the green roof are ten blown-glass spheres or “floats” by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The sculptures were commissioned from the Chihuly Studio specifically for this location. Chihuly was inspired to create the work, titled Black Niijima Floats, during a 1990s visit to Niijima, Japan, where glass spheres are used as floats for fishing nets. The Addison’s floats weigh between 15 and 35 pounds and range in size from 16 inches to 32 inches in diameter. The production of each sphere requires a choreographed production sequence involving about eight highly skilled studio assistants.